Saturday, December 12, 2020

Winter Beauty: Ornamental Grasses!

Panicum virgatum, Schizachyrium scoparium, Calamagrostis sp, Panicum virgatum 

You can find beauty in the most mundane of surroundings.

Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown, NJ features a gorgeous formal garden, tropical and other interesting plants in greenhouses, and short trails for nature lovers. 

But hidden in plain sight in the main parking lot was something that actually made me gasp.

There between the rows of parking spaces and parked cars stood masses of ornamental grasses, their now-dried stems and leaves rising tall and straight towards the cold November sky. Every single island in the lot was filled with these botanical wonders.

The great thing about it was that these were not the non-native Miscanthus sinensis cultivars that are so beloved nowadays by landscape designers, but mostly native perennial grasses.

The tallest were Panicum virgatum cultivars (switch grass), their erect forms standing like disciplined soldiers ready for battle.

P. virgatum
Between stood reddish-hued Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem),  another hold-over from the vast prairies of olden America, plus short groupings of what I took to be an elegant Calamagrostis cultivar.
S. scoparium

And for lovers of Miscanthus sinensis, the park had a huge specimen towering over a small decorative pond just steps away from the entrance.

M. sinensis across the pond from the cattails
I love that there has been this strong shift in the landscaping business towards using ornamental grasses as part of their designs. I mean, with their dynamic forms and dramatic color changes over the course of the seasons, such grasses beat boring shrubbery all the time! ;-)

P. virgatum with dried airy panicles still in place

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